We sat down with members of RAGAn,a group of Bay Area high school students who perform classical Indian music, to discuss their fight against local hunger. The students attend different schools, but they recently united for a fundraising concert benefiting Second Harvest. RAGAn includes Raama, Ajay, Geeta, Nitin, and Akshay. Their instruments include mridangam, a South Indian percussion instrument, the veena, a string instrument, and their voices.
What gave you the idea for the concert?
AJAY: When we started, we wanted to do one concert as a fun event. Then we got an idea to do something better than that–we could not just do it to play music, but help someone.
NITIN: We got our inspiration from another group of musicians who held a benefit concert a few years ago. We thought we would take it up a notch and invite different schools to play.
RAAMA: We wanted audiences to be involved in what they were donating toward. So we invited them to perform and be an integral part of our battle against hunger.
With so many worthy causes, why did you focus on hunger?
GEETA: We were wondering what types of local problems there are here. We were oblivious to the fact that some basic needs, like food, aren’t being met.
AKSHAY: It was shocking to hear that so many people are hungry here, in such an affluent area.
AJAY: …and we wanted to strike light on that assumption and prove it wrong. In my old neighborhood, I saw poverty and hunger firsthand. I realized that is an issue that has to be taken on.
NITIN: Growing up in a middle-class family, I don’t feel the hunger that a lot of people feel. Doing this concert opened my perspective to how a lot of people are living.
RAAMA: Literacy, shelter, and other types of problems are important as well, but they all don’t threaten the lives of millions of humans across the world every single day, in the same way hunger does. Hunger is a problem that no matter how wealthy a nation is, some people face it. So if we put our own energy and time into helping to eradicate that problem, then it probably makes both us and them better for it.
Why did you select Second Harvest?
NITIN: As a team, we found Second Harvest and we thought it was the perfect fit. We love that you guys put most of your money towards the actual cause. Your organization was so committed. I used to volunteer in a local food bank; it was a great experience for me, and I could see how much people relied on it. I’d deliver food and help people put it in their cars, and they were so thankful and grateful. What better way to give back than a cause that’s close to us?
GEETA: They say if you’re good at music, you’re good at math. But if I forget to take my lunch to school one day, I get so hungry I can’t focus in math class. I know food is so important. When I told my friends about the concert, they just took out their wallets and gave me five dollars to put it towards Second Harvest. I’m so glad we were able to help kids like us.
What would you say to other young people who are thinking about donating, hosting a fundraiser, or volunteering?
AJAY: Find a cause that you find moving. At the end of the fundraiser, you should be feeling satisfied and happy because it’s meaningful to you.
NITIN: If you’re passionate about something, you can pursue that and use that passion to help others. For me, Indian music is a great way to connect with my culture, express myself, and it’s a great stress reliever. Music is always there to hold me up. Use whatever you have and make the most of it!
***Click here to find out how you can help fight hunger in our community!